June 2019


St Mary’s story

(A)-DSC_2188-St-Marys,-Wanstead-2© Geoff Wilkinson

A series of talks will take place at St Mary’s Church this month exploring the building’s history. Canon Professor Mark Chapman, Professor of the History of Modern Theology at Oxford University, is one of the speakers.

In the middle of the 19th century church architecture was big business – there was a wholesale rebuilding of medieval buildings and many celebrity architects. Only about a hundred churches were left untouched by the Victorians. Our ideas of what a church should look like come from their rather vivid re-imagination of the Middle Ages.

When the Victorians built or ‘restored’ church buildings they had a particular set of ideas they wanted to put into practice: almost always they used Gothic forms, which they felt were properly ‘Christian’ (rather than pagan) and they tended to emphasise ritual, symbolism and colour. This was quite different from earlier church layouts in the Church of England, which emphasised preaching and offered few distractions to the eye. Victorian architecture is just one aspect of a bold and confident social vision, a way of trying to rejuvenate a past with the church at the centre. Nearly all the architects of the Victorian period were deeply conservative and feared the disintegration of society that would come from industrialisation and the rise of cities. Their vision was one in which everybody fitted into the social fabric and would be cared for.

But their predecessors were often very different: churches were built without too much recourse to the past – the forms were functional rather than historical. A church was first and foremost a fitting place for a sermon to be preached so everybody could see and hear. Its ideal form was determined by the practicalities of acoustics and visibility. St Mary’s stands well within that tradition: it might be a very unusual building because it was built during a time of conflict, but it stands in a tradition that reached its climax with the flurry of church building after the Battle of Waterloo. Large numbers of new church buildings were constructed with the aim of ensuring the growing population in the cities might have somewhere to sit and hear the teachings of the Established Church to ensure greater social stability in the era of the Peterloo massacre and political unrest.

In Wanstead there are fine examples of these two very different types of church – the one a Victorian recreation of something medieval and the other modelled on a Greek or Roman public building. Both were originally expressions of the mission of a church which was deeply embedded in the wider society.

We are always left with the same questions as our predecessors. How is our architecture related to the mission of the church and its relationship to the world? And that requires thinking, not about buildings, but about mission and what on earth the church is for in our post-Christian society.

Professor Mark Chapman will be joined by architect Niall McLaughlin and building conservationist Ian Angus for the talks at St Mary’s Church, Overton Drive, Wanstead on 10 July from 7pm to 9pm (free; all welcome). Visit wansteadparish.org

Old enough to…


In the first of a series of articles looking at Age UK RBH’s Allan Burgess Wanstead Activity Centre, manager Jackie Balman outlines a week of workouts and classes and invites anyone over 55 to pop in.

Hello, my name is Jackie Balman and I manage the Allan Burgess Activity Centre in Wanstead for Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering (RBH). The centre is located on the corner of Grove Park and Wanstead High Street. We are open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday and from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays for coffee. In this article, I would like to give you some idea of what we offer here at the centre. For Redbridge residents over 55, this place is an absolute must!

The activities we offer for a small charge will help to keep you active both physically and mentally. Mondays are all about exercise: there are two Zumba classes and a chair-based yoga class. Tuesdays offer a wide variety of classes: craft group, hourly computer classes, an art class, bridge club, card and board games and clay modelling as well as more chair yoga and Zumba. Wednesdays are a little quieter with our knitting club, book club (monthly) and hourly computer classes, plus another exercise class! Thursdays offer our long-established art class plus chair-based Yoga. And Fridays offer morning and afternoon chair exercise classes.

We also provide a nutritious lunch, cooked from fresh ingredients on the premises, and snacks and refreshments throughout the day. We offer cooked two-course lunches for the cost of £5 Monday to Thursdays, and a truly wonderful roast dinner on Fridays for £5.50. We can provide vegetarian, fish and other options for people with dietary requirements. The centre offers disability access and fully accessible toilets.

Of course, you don’t have to do an activity or indeed have a lunch to come to the centre; you can just pop in for a cup of tea or coffee, read the papers, socialise and engage with other like-minded service users and volunteers.

You can also just pop in if you have any questions about things that may be causing you concern or that you may be anxious about and don’t know where to look for advice. A very big part of our service is to provide you with information or signpost you on to other organisations within the borough that will help.

For me, personally, the centre offers something extra to all the above. We want everyone who comes in to find caring, safety, warmth, friendship, fun, humour, companionship and a reason to lift your spirits, all enveloped in a welcoming atmosphere. I have seen many service users living with depression, anxiety and loneliness start to turn their lives around just from spending time at the centre. So, I would ask you all to come along and try us out. I look forward to seeing you soon!

The Allan Burgess Activity Centre is located at 2 Grove Park, Wanstead, E11 2DL. For more information about times and available spaces, call 020 8989 6338 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk

Ball of creativity

IMG_20180719_203605142©Guli Hamra

Ahead of a series of wool art workshops for children at Wanstead Library, Guli Hamra explains how growing up in Kyrgyzstan provided her with an intrinsic connection to wool and how her creativity unravelled.

My name is Guli and I have been living in England for 17 years. I am originally from Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia. People in my country have traditionally been nomads and they have always used wool in their life.

I grew up where people make carpets from wool, as well as yurts, clothes and many different things which we still use in modern life. In my childhood, I used to help my mum, our neighbours and relatives to make carpets. So, I know how to work with wool!

I used to have lots of craft hobbies until I saw a picture made out of wool on the internet. I couldn’t believe it because it was just like a photograph. My first attempt at wool art was made from my scarf. I laugh at that now, but at that time, I was so proud of myself. And a big thank you to all my family who believed in me and gave me lots of support in my art from the beginning until now.

A year after I started making wool art, I was invited to Scotland by the writer Shahsanem Murrey, to show my work in her project about Scotland and Asian cultures and traditions. That was my first exhibition, which gave me more confidence. Nearly four years on, I am now painting with wool and I run classes for adults and children. My art and that of my students has been displayed in exhibitions in Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Kazakhstan, and at the moment, I am exhibiting a bit nearer to home in Romford.

Painting with wool is the process of creating art using non-traditional materials to mimic traditional painting and drawing techniques. With this style, instead of using paint and a brush, students use wool fibres to create the effects of layering colour, creating texture and depth. The process of creating artworks with wool helps people reduce stress and tension, find an inner balance and reveal their hidden talents.

Wool art is truly unique; layer by layer, we meticulously place multiple colours of wool fibres on fabric surfaces forming landscapes, floral scenes and portraits. The fibres are then compressed under a glass surface, imitating the appearance of watercolours, oils and charcoal drawings. Allow me to introduce painting with wool to your child and ignite the talents that resides within them.

Painting with wool workshops for seven- to 12-year-olds will take place at Wanstead Library on 6 and 20 July and 21 September from 1pm to 3pm (£6 per child; booking required). Visit wnstd.com/libraryevents

View Guli’s work at wnstd.com/guli


Colour experiment

IMG_0385©James Knight

James Knight has been experimenting with colour and abstract paintings since his childhood, experiments which have helped prepare him to take part in the 10th Art Trail Wanstead this September.

My early years were spent in Shoreditch, and I always had an interest in drawing, painting and colour. My family were printers and worked with colour and form. I remember helping my mother spread ink onto a letterpress printing plate during my childhood. The form of the spread ink was one of my earlier experiments with colour.

When I entered secondary school, my two main influences were art teachers Mr Wesley and Mr Swindon. Mr Swindon was a great portrait and caricature artist, whilst Mr Wesley was wonderful with colour and pattern. Both encouraged me to feel free artistically and to experiment.

Upon leaving school, I worked for Panoramic Pictures taking photos of entire schools. Anybody who has had their school photograph taken will know the school is formed into a half-circle, with a camera in the middle on a swivel tripod. The great sport was for boys to have their photo taken at one end and then run round the back of the half circle and have their photograph taken at the other end, appearing in the same photograph twice.

From there, I continued to paint for my own pleasure in between a variety of jobs, which involved interior planning, photography and carpet and fabric design. All of which enabled me to indulge my love of colour. I also worked with the renowned interior designer Jon Bannenberg, who was a master of interiors and colour. He would join ceilings with walls using pattern to make a room flow and create abstract form by stippling feature walls.

The time open to me for painting dwindled as work got in the way, but I was always considering various ideas for when I had the time to put paint to canvas. I have always been more interested in abstract and surrealist art. I greatly admire Edward Burra and Salvador Dali. Burra, in particular, for his interpretation of the human form and Dali for his surrealist approach to the living world that surrounds us. Although, I think every artist must be admired for the amount of thought and work that goes into creating a painting.

Art Trail Wanstead will take place from 7 to 22 September. For more information, visit artgroupwanstead.com

Squad of winners

IMG_1826qFrank Lampard Sr with Snaresbrook FC

Despite missing out on the league title, Snaresbrook FC are still a squad of winners, says Millicent Brown, and they count Frank Lampard Snr among their supporters.

It’s been another fantastic year for the historic local Wanstead football team Snaresbrook FC, which has been playing on the Nutter Field for decades.

Originally named RAFARNO – short for Royal Air Force Army Royal Navy Officers – the club was set up at the end of World War One to provide sporting activities for the local community. Even these days, a fenced-off section with a fir tree remains at the top end of the ground, marking the area where horses and carriages used to drop off passengers.

This season, the team has been competing in one of the top divisions of Essex’s highest-flying leagues – the Essex Olympian Football League – and for a long time looked as though they would end up champions.

Sponsored by local businessman and renowned soccer legend Frank Lampard Snr of the nearby Nightingale on the Green pub, they had a great start early in the season, and even up until mid-season were the top club with games in hand. Sadly, in the end, Snaresbrook lost the Division One title by just six points, ending up fourth in the league, despite having beaten the eventual champions in two games.

New manager Rob Caine, currently taking over from former manager Paul ‘Stan’ Staniford, said: “We have a squad of winners. It was a tough year – let’s move on from it… We haven’t done ourselves any injustice, all our players should be proud of what they have achieved this year. Most of the teams which played us this year – including some Premiership teams – told us we were one of the best teams they had played and we deserved to be in the top division. This coming year is going to be another tough year, but this summer, we have some triallists coming over to the Nutter Field and hopefully they will be signing up with us for next season.”

The Nightingale’s Frank Lampard Snr, who is sponsoring the team once again during the forthcoming year, said: “This has been a great season for my team – and what a brilliant year it has been supporting them! To have such a fabulous club so close to my Nightingale pub is a dream come true – and it is fantastic that we have teamed up together. It’s lovely to have the whole team coming in to enjoy our Sky Sports action at the pub after most of their games. The new season is almost upon us and I am sure it is another year when Snaresbrook FC will do themselves proud and be one of the main contestants for the top spot.”

At a recent ceremony at the Nutter Field clubhouse, the following awards were made:

  • Golden boot: Tyriquee Solomon
  • Manager’s player: Josh Woodcock
  • Players’ player: Chris Huggins

For more information on Snaresbrook FC, email snaresbrookfc@gmail.com or follow the club on Twitter @Snaresbrookfc for details of games and results. 

Aldersbrook Lawn Tennis Club holds 24-hour charity hit-a-thon

20190622_065954Adam Land (Chair of Carefree Kids) with his niece, Francis, and two club members hit the first ball for the event

Aldersbrook Lawn Tennis Club held a 24-hour hit-a-thon last week, raising funds for children’s mental health charity Carefree Kids and the club.

“Tennis and social members kept a ball in play during 24 hourly slots; either a tennis ball, a table tennis ball or a pool ball,” said a club spokesperson. Running from 6pm on 21 June until 6pm on 22 June, the event has raised £800 so far and was supported by local bands Replay, Breakfast Bunch and Major 3rd. Located on Blake Hall Road, the club boasts six all-weather courts.

Visit wnstd.com/altc


‘Not on our Watch’: interviewees needed for anti-war history project


Residents who have been involved in anti-war movements in east London are invited to participate in oral history project ‘Not on our Watch’.

“We will be recording stories of campaigning, struggling and building relationships within the grassroots peace movement from post-WWII to the present day,” said a spokesperson for Eastside Community Heritage, a charity which promotes an understanding of inter-generational experiences through historical explorations.

Call 020 8553 3116


Public speaking club offers confidence boost


The new president of a local public speaking club is encouraging any residents keen to improve their confidence and leadership skills to join them.

The Woodford Green Speakers are affiliated to Toastmasters International and meet fortnightly at Wanstead Golf Club. “Toastmasters has helped thousands around the world to overcome their fears of public speaking,” said Pamela Odukoya, who was elected as the group’s president in June. Meetings will take place on 9 and 23 July from 6.45pm.

Visit wnstd.com/wgs


Memorial plaque for Joseph Merrick at City of London Cemetery


A memorial plaque has been placed in the City of London Cemetery at the recently discovered location of the final resting place of Joseph Merrick, who was exhibited as the Elephant Man in the 1880s.

After his death in 1890, Joseph’s bones were removed of flesh and stored for medical study. What happened to the rest of his remains had been a mystery for over a century, until author Joanne Vigor-Mungovin studied the Aldersbrook cemetery’s burial records in April this year, which ultimately led her to the grave’s location.


The Battle of Agincourt: one of England’s most celebrated victories

ahgin-2Morning of the Battle of Agincourt, by Sir John Gilbert (1884)

The Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415) will be discussed at next month’s meeting of the East of London Family History Society at Wanstead Library.

“King Henry V’s wet, cold, tired, hungry and scared army inflicted a massive defeat on the French. Their knights charged into heavy, wet ground and were slaughtered, many even after they were captured. But when he returned home, Henry received a hero’s welcome,” said Jef Page, whose presentation will take place on 24 July from 7pm (visitors: £1.50).

Call 020 8554 8414